HGP More Important Than Spaceflight: Scientists

"The Human Genome Project (HGP) bears more significance than the Apollo Space Project does," Yang Minghuan, the chief scientist on Chinese side on HGP, said Monday at the 2000 West Lake Exposition in Hangzhou of east China's Zhejiang Province.

Dubbed the "top three projects" in natural science with Manhattan Atomic Bomb Project, Apollo Space Project, HGP is the most urgent and far-reaching one, said Yang.

Human beings are proud of their dazzling achievements in the 20th century: the atomic bomb represented for the swift improvement in physical field; space exploration extended mankind' s relationship with the boundless universe; and the Internet is turning the whole globe into a small village.

Launched in 1990 by the United States, HGP aims to map out the sequence of all three billion nucleotide pairs, which will help decode the structure and function of the 100,000 genes in the human body and thus reveal a mass of information on human genetics.

There are six participants, which are the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Germany and China. They have completed a working draft of 90 percent of the sequencing of the human genome in June.

Yang, 48, and his colleagues with the Bioengineering Development Center under the Ministry of Science and Technology deciphered the chromosomes that make the human forearms, accounting for 1 per cent of the total work.

Now China ranks fourth in the world in terms of gene sequencing capacity, and the Bio-engineering Development Center ranks world's seventh human genome research center.

Scientists are working on the complete draft of human genome in June next year, said Yang.

The human genome research will be of unmeasurable significance in unraveling the riddles in various fields such as medicine industry, agriculture and livestock breeding Yang said. It will lead human beings into a brand-new era of bio-science and bio- technology on the basis of DNA sequencing.

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